The 12th IRISH FILM FESTA, the only Italian film festival completely dedicated to Irish cinema and culture, is taking place from March 27th to 31st, 2019, at the Casa del Cinema in Rome. The competitive section, reserved for short films produced or co-produced in Ireland, features two categories this year: Drama and Documentary.
«This year the short films line-up gives more space to documentaries. Documentary cinema is going through a very interesting phase in Ireland, as our shorts selection can confirm, and as the feature films programme will highlight as well», says artistic director Susanna Pellis.
Eleven short films will screen in the Drama programme: Ed Cleary’s Ask Me Now is a black-and-white celebration of jazz music in Dublin, while David Moody’s Camlo tells the story of a young Roma boy in today’s Belfast. Also from Northern Ireland is Don’t Be Afraid by Mark McCauley, in which a girl mysteriously dies in the middle of Foyle Street in Derry.
Laura Kavanagh’s No Place addresses the housing crisis through the story of a young woman and her kids finding themselves on the verge of homelessness; Evin O’Neill’s Under Growth (Best Irish Short at IndieCork) gives an imaginative take on the dad-and-daughter bond; Hold the Line, co-directed by Laura O’ Shea and Karen Killen, follows a call-centre worker during a particularly difficult day.
Paul M. Horan’s Bless Me Father, which stars Francis Magee (Game of Thrones) and Phelim Drew (The Drummer and the Keeper), is set inside the confessional of a small church, where a priest and a parishioner confront each other over a long hidden secret; instead, the dialogue-less Clean (world premiere), directed by Garry Cooper and produced by actress Simone Kirby (Jimmy’s Hall), takes place in a laundry.
The last three Drama shorts all play with genre: Mark Smyth’s Leap of Faith, about two neighbours who find an unexpected connection, and Garret Walsh’s The Observer Effect, in which a dark watcher is obsessed with visions of murder, both have supernatural elements; Low Tide, directed by Ian Hunt Duffy (who won Best Short Film at IFF 2017 with Gridlock), is a coming-of-age horror about a young boy going on a fishing trip with his father.
As for the Documentary section, Thomas Beug’s The Swimmer tells the story of Stephen Redmond from West Cork, who was the first person ever to complete the Oceans Seven challenge; Pigeons of Discontent, by Paddy Cahill (his previous short, Séan Hillen, Merging Views, was at IFF 2017), focuses on the pigeon population of the Dublin neighbourhood of Stoneybatter; in Mother & Baby, Mia Mullarkey offers an insight into the cruel business of Catholic institutions in which, for decades, “illegitimate” children and their mothers were locked.
Recovery, by Síofra Quinn Gates, highlights three women’s healing journey from sexual assault, while in Sean Mullen’s Inhale (Best Irish Short Doc at Galway Film Fleadh 2018) a grieving man is helped by horses to move in harmony with his pain.
Two more short documentaries, both examples of experimental filmmaking, will screen out of competition: Bog Graffiti is the latest work by Bob Quinn, a meditation on the passing beauty of our tiny planet before we destroy it; Distance, by Sharon Whooley (scriptwriter for Pat Collins’ Silence and Song of Granite) is a story about time told from three temporal perspectives: that of a woman, a house and a mountain.
IRISH FILM FESTA 12 | COMPETITION
ASK ME NOW
Ed Cleary (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. The Loneliest Monk — 16’37”
with Charlie Moon, Sorcha Herlihy, Adam Devereux, Tony Cantwell, Wes O’Duinn, Patrick Murphy, Joseph Caulfield
A celebration of jazz music in Dublin and the pitfalls of the creative lifestyle.
BLESS ME FATHER
Paul M. Horan (Ireland, 2017)
Prod. Dawn Mac Allister — 15’35”
with Francis Magee, Phelim Drew, Glynis Casson
In a small Irish town where secrets are rare, a local man goes to church to confess his.
David Moody (Northern Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Emma Mullen-Connolly — 12’45”
with David Covaciu, Corey McKinley, Diona Doherty
A young Roma boy, born and raised in Belfast, attempts to find his footing in a city that does not fully accept him.
CLEAN – World Premiere
Garry Cooper (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Simone Kirby — 4’54”
with Fergal McElherron
An everyday scenario. Two people sitting together, in an ordinary place, getting on with their unremarkable, mundane tasks. But sometimes life is not so ordinary.
DON’T BE AFRAID
Mark McCauley (Northern Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Pearse Moore — 13’00”
with Julie Addy, Shannon Wilkinson, Michelle Lake, Andy Porter, James Lecky, John Mulkeen
A young girl suddenly collapses and dies in the middle of Foyle Street in Derry. On rushing to her aid a young Detective on her first day as a CID officer immediately recognises the girl, Rosalind, and begins her own personal journey of investigation, discovery and revelation.
HOLD THE LINE
Karen Killen & Laura O’ Shea (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Laura O’ Shea — 11’57”
with Laura O’ Shea, Lesa Thurman Russell, Tony Doyle
Em works in a call centre. She faces a day that’s more difficult than the usual ‘customer care queries’ and is on the brink. That’s until: she picks up the phone to Patsy.
LEAP OF FAITH
Mark Smyth (Ireland, 2017)
Prod. Jonathan Farrelly — 14’10”
with Leah Egan, Aron Hegarty, Ava Rose Farrelly, Marian Theresa Farrelly, Grace Margaret Farrelly, Michelle Lucy, Robert Harrington, Emmet Kelly
Kelly lives a lonely life in a busy city – unfulfilled and longing for more. When new neighbour Johnny moves into the adjacent building, he captivates Kelly.
Ian Hunt Duffy (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Simon Doyle — 11’30”
with Luke Lally, Steve Wall
A boy is excited about heading out to sea on a father-son fishing trip, but his father may have more sinister intentions.
Laura Kavanagh (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Laura Kavanagh, Barry Ward — 7’20”
with Michelle McMahon, Skye O’Sullivan-Whiting, Jude O’Sullivan-Whiting, Callie Cooke.
Angela and her young kids find themselves on the verge of homelessness. Angela struggles to look after her family and maintain a sense of normality. An increasingly desperate situation leads her to commit an uncharacteristic act and places the family’s future in jeopardy.
THE OBSERVER EFFECT
Garret Walsh (Ireland, 2017)
Prod. Garret Walsh, Kathy Horgan — 18’57”
with Vanessa Emme, Patrick O’Brien, Brendan Sheehan
A woman is haunted by a dark watcher obsessed with thoughts of her vicious murder but brutal events unfold to reveal a secret that will change her life forever.
Evin O’Neill (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Jamie O’Rourke — 11’35”
with Stephen Jones, Soraya Abbas, Fiona Lucia McGarry, Dmitry Vinokurov
When Hayley visits her dad for the first time since her mum dumped him, he’s too hung-up and hungover to handle her imaginative games and tells her to go play outside.
Sean Mullan (Northern Ireland, 2017)
Prod. Chris Martin — 15’56”
Through horses, a man feels an irrepressible duty to move in harmony with his pain. A film exploring the infinite momentum of life via an energy never destroyed, only transformed.
MOTHER & BABY
Mia Mullarkey (Ireland, 2017)
Prod. Alice McDowell — 18’16”
For decades, Catholic Ireland locked its children into institutions if they were conceived out of wedlock; punishment for their sinning mothers. Revealing the children’s perspectives and including powerful archive, this documentary offers a painful yet cathartic insight into the cruel business of Mother & Baby Homes.
PIGEONS OF DISCONTENT
Paddy Cahill (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Paddy Cahill — 8’22”
In the otherwise tranquil Dublin neighbourhood of Stoneybatter, one local quirk has divided neighbours. The Pigeons. This short documentary looks at the local Pigeon population, while we hear some impassioned opinions from some of the neighbourhoods residents.
Síofra Quinn Gates (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Renate Canga — 8’13”
A short documentary which highlights three women’s journey of recovery from sexual assault.
Thomas Beug (Ireland, 2017)
Prod. Jessica Bermingham — 11’31”
Stephen Redmond from West Cork was the first person ever to complete the world famous ‘Ocean’s Seven’ challenge, consisting of seven long-distance channel swims.
OUT OF COMPETITION
BOG GRAFFITI / GRAFFITI SA bPORTACH – World Premiere
Bob Quinn (Ireland, 2019)
Prod. Bob Quinn — 13’00”
To paint images on granite rocks in the wet and windy landscape of Conamara would seem to be a folly. Foolishness also to plant saplings on the same bogscape – it is four thousand years since the place was fully clothed in trees. The film notes the passing beauty of a tiny planet before we destroy it.
Sharon Whooley (Ireland, 2018)
Prod. Harvest Films — 13’30”
Distance looks at multiple dimensions of time in a specific place, Glenbride in Co. Wicklow, from three distinct perspectives: the memory of a mountain, the memory of a house, and the tangled forces of human memory.